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Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip

 

Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PSP
Category: Sports
 
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Author:

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Clap Hanz

Features:

Rated E (Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes)
Ad Hoc Mode supports 2-4 players
Game Sharing
736kb memory required for game save
Singles and doubles play (including in ad hoc mode)

When I was given the chance to review Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip I jumped at it. I’m a big fan of the Hot Shots Golf games (especially on handhelds where I think you really get full value in terms of how well they play and their depth) and my PSP has been collecting a little too much dust lately. I’m happy to say the Hot Shots formula translates extremely well to the sport of tennis and the PSP. Let’s get down to the details shall we?

Graphics

I am as impressed with the graphics in Get a Grip as I am with the gameplay. They’ve packed a ton of details into the PSP. While there are prettier games on the PSP, this one definitely holds its own. Probably the least impressive are the characters, which are still pretty good and sport a nice level of detail (this helps when you consider the various costumes). There are various courts based on the different areas you go through in the game. Each sports a great level of detail from various interactive courtside objects to the textures of the courts themselves. The environments have that same high level of detail, especially with the textures. Thanks to good textures, everything looks really nice. Things also move along at a nice smooth clip making the actual gameplay great.

Sound

I’m not sure what it is about tennis games but I’m always big on the sound of the ball hitting the racquet just right. That might sound trivial but as a tennis player I think it’s important. Get a Grip does as good of a job as any other tennis game by replicating that satisfying “pop.”

Rather than actual dialogue, conversations between characters play out in text boxes. No big deal but I always prefer real voices. There’s plenty of chatter during gameplay though, with several verbal cues after shots that can actually help. After awhile things might get a bit repetitive, but when you’re changing up characters all the time it’s really no big deal.

There’s also a good amount of music in the game with different tunes for the various locales. Most of it is pretty un-intrusive. I normally turn in-game music off but it was good enough to leave on. Only one track comes to mind that I found grating.

Gameplay

For the uninitiated, Hot Shots games are somewhat anime styled. Don’t let that cartoony look fool you though. While relatively simple to play, Hot Shots games can actually be quite complex and deep. Get a Grip is no different and that’s a good thing. The story loosely plays out around your character travelling around the world spreading a love for tennis and the good it can do. If that sounds cheesy, it’s because it is. Don’t let that scare you because it’s bearable and the actual gameplay more than makes up for this.

The various locales you travel to are all unique and offer fun differences from one another, whether it be a college full of students or a remote tropical island. The goal in each locale is essentially to play through the characters present until you meet and play a boss character and winning that match adds that boss character to your party of playable characters. There are a few secrets hidden around each area offering nice rewards and the odd mini-game as well.

The Hot Shots formula here is simple, familiar and still effective. Levelling up is pretty simplified in that you don’t choose where to allocate any points you earn. The game simply does it for you. Levelling up also increases the stats for all of your characters. You can have up to 12. For a more casual player like me this is really great because it combines that incentive to keep playing but makes it easy. You also earn loyalty experience points by using a particular character often. Each loyalty level unlocks access to stuff like advanced gear, shots and lockers (where you can store different setups for each character); nothing new if you’re a Hot Shots fan but still good. During each match you earn points for certain shots (aces, ace returns, etc) and you also earn points for margin of victory.

Let’s get to the actual tennis now because it’s kind of why we’re here isn’t it? The gameplay follows the Hot Shots formula with relatively simplified controls compared to other tennis games. Don’t let that fool you though. Swings are made with a simple button press and it’s all about timing. You don’t need to worry about pre-loading swing power. There are a lot of on-screen cues to tell you how well you’ve hit a shot or if a certain type of shot is available (a smash, for example). There’s a lot going on. At first it can almost be a bit intimidating, especially if you come from the Virtua Tennis or Top Spin ranks. Give it a few games and you’ll get a feel for things and the depth of the gameplay becomes evident.

There’s plenty of match types as well including singles, doubles play and different match conditions such as character limits, no Ads and more. These all serve to keep things fresh from match-to-match and are available to customize in exhibition play (where you can also play matches against other members of your party).

Finally, what’s a Hot Shots game without an insane amount of outfits, hairstyles and accessories? While you get a lot of stuff by winning matches, you can also spend the points you win on even more, from rackets to the above mentioned stuff. Need more reason to buy stuff? All the items you buy add experience points and help your characters level up. I thought that was a neat, well-thought out idea.


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